Change Your Clock and Replace Your Smoke Alarms

Friday, March 12, 2010 - 2:12am

Daylight Saving Time is a perfect time to test your smoke alarms and replace any old smoke alarms in your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 66 percent of home fire deaths that occurred between 2003-2006 were in homes without a working smoke alarm. A working smoke alarm is constantly scanning the air for fire and smoke, significantly increasing your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

Smoke alarms lose sensitivity as they age and should be replaced if they are more than ten years old. Don't just replace the battery, replace the alarm! If you have 120-volt hardwired smoke alarms, be sure to replace the backup battery in the alarms.

Madison General Ordinance 34.42 (Smoke Alarms) was changed in 2009 to improve the level of protection provided by smoke alarms. All homes in the City of Madison must comply with the new requirements by August 15, 2010 including:

• Smoke alarms more than ten years old must be replaced.
• Alarms must be powered by a 10-year lithium battery or 120 volts AC (hardwired) with a battery backup
• All alarms must be installed and maintained in accordance with manufacturer's instructions
• 9-volt batteries will no longer be used in smoke alarms except as a battery back-up for a hard-wired alarm

The ordinance also requires that smoke alarms be located in the following areas of the home:

o In each bedroom or sleeping area
o Within six feet of each door leading to a bedroom or sleeping area
o On each floor of the building

Information on the ordinance, placement of alarms, and fire safety is available on the Department's Web site at

The Madison Fire Department offers the following fire safety recommendations:

• Test your smoke alarms monthly.
• Follow the manufacturer's instructions for maintaining and cleaning your alarms.
• Have an escape plan for your home and practice home fire escape drills.
• When the alarm sounds, get out and stay out.
• If you can do so safely, close doors behind you as you leave.
• After you have escaped, call 9-1-1 from a safe place and never go back inside for any reason.

  • Eric Dahl, 608-279-7148